Regarding Luther Blackmon

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Many inquiries come to me regarding the health and general well-being of Brother Luther Blackmon. Due to acute bilateral cerebral atrophy, Brother Blackmon has been forced entirely and evidently permanently from the pulpit, and his pen stopped from producing the interesting articles that were written so peculiarly in "Luther Blackmon"style. No one else wrote like him.

Physically speaking, Brother Blackmon is improved over his condition of one year ago, but this improvement is only occasioned by his residency in Bradner Village, 505 N. Bradford, Marion, Indiana 46952. His room number is 226. Bradner Village is a home for older or disabled people. However, they do not take immobile or incontinent people into this facility. So really it is quite a happy place, and Luther seems to be completely happy there. He has a private room, with a private bath, and meals are served in cafeteria style. Several who have visited Luther here have remarked that they have never seen a better place for one in his condition to live. Neither have I. It is somewhat like living in a nice motel. Most people probably would not relish the thought of living in a motel. However, this does not seem to affect Luther as much as it might the rest of us, for he has lived alone for more than forty years. He seems actually to prefer to live alone. He was happy when we procured a private room for him.

Luther attends nearly every service conducted at the Westside church where I worship and where Brother Norman Midgette preaches. He often comments very appropriately in the classes, and can yet lead a beautiful and moving prayer. He watches television some, and reads his Bible a lot. Though I have tried to get him to let me bring him additional recreational reading material, he has never shown any interest whatsoever in it. This Summer he even played one round of golf, a sport in which he participated for perhaps twenty-five years. I have not been on a golf course twenty-five times in my life, in all probability. Luther used to get quite an enjoyment out of my frustration whenever he and I happened to play together. I never beat him a single time, which really is no special compliment to his playing ability. He did shoot in the 80's occasionally . . .and that's on eighteen holes, in case any of you golfing preachers are about to wise off with the old "How did he do on the second hole?" line.

But Luther's thinking faculties have been irrevocably impaired. He remembers very few people; even persons with whom he was closely associated over many years. Paradoxically, he can still quote flawlessly many entire chapters of Scripture at a time. He is unable to respond to any mail, though I think letters would be enjoyed by him. But please do not expect him to reply to anyone's letter.

It costs about $600 per month for Luther's care at Bradner Village, which includes laundry, food, administering of medications, and supervision. He still insists that I write a $5.00 per week church contribution check for him each week. Roy Cogdill told him once while he was visiting here that he did not think the Lord expected him to continue to give money each Lord's Bay. Luther later told me, "As much as I think of Roy Cogdill, that's one time I had to disagree with Him." Presently he has on hand enough money to attend to about ten months' care, but he draws $261.00 per month social security, and that will extend his financial resources somewhat. Several owe him money. Some are repaying him, and some cannot now do so, and some simply will not repay him. One "good brother" or sister just beat him out of $3,000, and so far I have not even been able to learn who the culprit is. I know that it occurred November 30, 1972. Luther withdrew $3,000 in cash from the bank, and he cannot remember who he let have it, and no one has acknowledged having the money. He did not buy anything at that time that would have cost anything like that amount of money. In fact, Luther has lived quite frugally his entire life.

Should any person be disposed to send any money to Brother Blackmon out of love for him or out of appreciation for his preaching the gospel for nearly fifty years, please do not mail it to him. More than a year ago, I was appointed Luther's legal guardian, and am attending to all his financial matters, under the supervision of the Court of this county. I will report to him any gifts sent to him. Some have sent gifts to him at Bradner Village. The administrators of that facility also prefer that funds not be sent directly to him. They prefer that he not keep more than $20 cash on him, lest someone should steal it.

Those of us who have loved Luther so much, and who loved so well to hear him preach the gospel of God's grace in his own interesting and effective way, find it difficult to see him now incapacitated and his labors ended. But Luther maintains his usual pleasant disposition. He still has his keen sense of wit. He is not mad at the world because of what has befallen him. Neither is he deceived about his condition. He fully understands it, and has accepted the fact magnanimously. He just could not have accepted this condition coming into his life with any better disposition.

He has no pains, except those minor pains that we all suffer at times. Physically he is strong enough, the doctors say, to live perhaps twenty years longer. My report to brethren regarding Luther can be stated simply: He is doing as well as anyone ever possibly could wish, in view of his condition. But I must hasten to draw this little news report article to a close. Luther and I must leave in about one hour to catch a plane to Houston. He is going to spend three weeks with Hollis Blackmon, his only brother. I must return home in three or four days. I feel sure that Luther would like for me to express to all his friends his gratitude for all their concern and good wishes. He's still the same old Luther . . . just hampered now and hindered from doing what he liked best: preaching the gospel of Him who died for us all.

Truth Magazine XVIII: 2, p. 19
November 14, 1974